Category Archives: Missiles & Guided Weapons

A2/AD missile design

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully completed the second flight test of its new Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) missile, demonstrating capabilities that will meet key objectives for the upcoming Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) program. The test was completed utilizing a company-owned Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft as the testbed for the air to surface mission computer and sensors.

Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW)
The Northrop Grumman A2/AD missile mission computer and sensors integrated on test aircraft (Northrop Grumman photo)

Northrop Grumman invested to actively mature and test its A2/AD missile design, which meets U.S. Air Force requirements for SiAW and other programs. Featuring open architecture interfaces, the Northrop Grumman solution will bridge current requirements while enabling rapid future upgrades to meet changing mission requirements.

«As a missile prime, we play a vital role in pioneering the most innovative solutions that increase survivability and lethality against new and emerging adversary threats», said Mary Petryszyn, president, Northrop Grumman Defense Systems. «Our lean-forward approach enables us to innovate at rapid speeds while reducing cost for our customers».

This second flight test demonstrated the mission capability of the missile sensor systems combined with the mission computer. This is the first of a new series of company funded flight tests which will continue to test the system with more stressing scenarios in preparation for the missile launch in 2022.

«We have taken significant steps to mature our missile design, providing capabilities for the U.S. Air Force SiAW program and other programs», said Dan Olson, vice president and general manager, weapon systems, Northrop Grumman. «Leveraging our digital engineering expertise to accelerate timelines, our first complete missile is planned to be built and ready for launch in 2022».

The Northrop Grumman A2/AD solution leverages lessons learned on the Navy’s Advanced Antiradiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER), engineering manufacturing and development, low-rate initial production and integration work on the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. The Northrop Grumman A2/AD missile is capable of being integrated on a variety of aircraft.

Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.

Final test firing

MBDA’s new Marte Extended Range (ER) anti-ship missile successfully completed its final test firing at the end of November 2021.

Marte ER
MBDA’s Marte ER has successful final test firing

Carried out at an Italian test range in Sardinia, the firing was a key milestone in the validation process of Marte ER. It provided extra confidence in the performance level and reliability of this new missile.

A telemetric production standard missile with all functional capabilities and production hardware embedded was used. The only exception was the use of an inert warhead instead of a live one. The ground based launching system used was also in its final hardware and software configuration.

Using its mission planning software, the missile carried out a long-range sea skimming flight. It made three main turns and a pop-up/dive manoeuvre during the last turn. A straight segment then followed up to the Radio Frequency (RF) seeker activation point. Target identification, selection and tracking was extremely fast and proportional guidance started soon after.

During its terminal phase, the missile successfully performed its anti-Close-in Weapon Systems manoeuvre, hitting the target just above the water line at high transonic speed. This confirmed the outstanding effectiveness of Marte ER’s terminal guidance with its new solid state RF Seeker.

The firing also showed Marte ER’s turbojet engine behaviour was excellent for both “in flight start time” and thrust level.

This firing was the last one in the development path of Marte ER, which will enter into operation early next year.

Sky Sabre

A totally integrated state-of-the-art air defence system recently delivered to the Royal Artillery is propelling the British Army to the very forefront of ground based air defence missile technology.

Sky Sabre
Sky Sabre air defence missile system

The Royal Artillery has accepted into its arsenal the Sky Sabre air defence system, providing a step change in the British Army’s medium range air defence capability and with it, unprecedented speed, accuracy, performance and target acquisition.

Sky Sabre, as the name implies, is very much at the cutting edge replacing its venerable predecessor Rapier which recently entered its fifth decade of operation with British Forces. Rapier has seen service in Kuwait, the South Atlantic, and probably most visibly when it deployed to numerous London parks to combat any security threats during the 2012 Olympics.

The new system is operated by 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, part of 7 Air Defence Group, based at Baker Barracks on the South Coast’s Thorney Island. The Regiment is currently rolling out an extensive training package to transition from Rapier to the new system, and what a system that is.

To put into context how advanced Sky Sabre is, Major Tim Oakes, the Senior Training Officer for the training programme and one of the lynch pins in the delivery of the system, said, «Sky Sabre is so accurate and agile that it is capable of hitting a tennis ball sized object travelling at several times the speed of sound. In fact, it can control the flight of 24 missiles simultaneously whilst in flight, guiding them to intercept 24 separate targets. It is an amazing capability».

Delivered by the MOD’s procurement arm, Defence Equipment and Support, the system comprises of three separate components. Although pictured in the accompanying photographs together, in reality in the battlespace they would be expected to operate at distances of up to 15 km/9.32 miles apart.

First of all, there are the eyes and ears of the system and for Sky Sabre that is the Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar. Its radar rotates atop an extending mast which allows it to be elevated above tree lines and other obstructions to identify low flying intruders. The Giraffe can see a full 360 degrees out to a range of 120 km/74.56 miles. It is a tried and very much trusted system that has seen numerous upgrades since it first entered service.

The second component lies at the very heart of the whole system; it is, of course, the Battle Management and Intelligence suite. In essence, the command and control centre. This capability that links up the radar with the missiles and sends them to their targets. It also provides what is known as Link 16; this is a tactical datalink that allows Sky Sabre to share its information with Royal Navy vessels, the Royal Air Force, and our allies. It means that the system can be integrated wholly and contribute fully with joint, combined, or NATO operations.

Finally, we get to the sharp end; the third component is the Land Ceptor intelligent launcher and missile itself. At 99 kg/218 lbs. each, the missiles are double the weight of the Rapier it replaces and have three times the range. This is the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) that reaches speeds of 2300 mph/3701 km/h and can eliminate fighter aircraft, drones, and even laser-guided smart bombs.

They are housed in eight silos mounted on the rear of their mobile launcher and when fired they launch in a unique omni-directional manner that significantly reduces its signature making it less of a target for enemy counter measures. When exhausted, the Land Ceptor launcher can be replenished with a new set of eight CAMMs in less than half the time that it took to re-arm Rapier.

Sky Sabre’s CAMM is the same missile that is used on board ships (Sea Ceptor) and shares components with the Royal Air Force munitions (ASRAAM). This commonality across all services brings with it huge logistical efficiencies as well as significant cost savings.

The Commanding Officer of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, said: «We will be able to compete with our peers and take on some of the toughest adversaries. It gives us a capability we have not had before; this new missile system with its new launcher and world-class radar will absolutely put us at the forefront of ground-based air defence».

16 Regiment Royal Artillery is now accepting into service the first tranche of this significant upgrade in the UK’s ability to defend itself from the air. Intended further procurements of Sky Sabre-based systems will be configured to operate in all parts of the globe. This means it could expect to see service world-wide much like its predecessor Rapier that will now gradually be phased out of service and returned to its scabbard!

Successful Flight Tests

In flight tests on November 4, Lockheed Martin demonstrated significant milestones for the PATRIOT Advanced Capability – 3 (PAC-3) program, including the first integration of the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) with the U.S. Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

PAC-3 MSE
Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE Reaches Major Milestones During Successful Flight Tests

During the flight test series, two PAC-3 MSE missiles successfully engaged from IBCS and intercepted Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) threats over White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico. These marked the first Field Surveillance Program (FSP) tests for PAC-3 MSE. FSP missions confirm the reliability and readiness of fielded PAC-3 missiles and normally occur annually.

«PAC-3 continues to build upon our rich history of reliable and innovative missile defense while also demonstrating our compatibility with one of the U.S. Army’s foremost modernization priorities to stay ahead of advanced threats», said Brenda Davidson, vice president of PAC-3 Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

An evolution of the battle-proven PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI), the PAC-3 MSE boasts a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range to defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.

Tomahawk Block Va

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, was awarded a $20 million contract for low-rate production of the Maritime Strike Tomahawk cruise missile Block Va, which includes navigation and communication upgrades in addition to an advanced multi-mode seeker for engaging moving targets at sea.

Tomahawk Block Va
U.S. Navy awards Raytheon Missiles & Defense $20 million contract for Maritime Strike Tomahawk

«This award is a significant and essential step toward addressing the U.S. Navy’s need to counter moving targets at sea», said Kim Ernzen, vice president of Naval Power at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. «Maritime Strike Tomahawk Block Va production ensures our Sailors have the most advanced long-range, first-strike weapons available to defeat advancing threats».

Tomahawk Block V series:

  • Block V: A modernized TACTOM with upgraded navigation and communication;
  • Block Va: Block V that can strike moving targets at sea;
  • Block Vb: Block V, with a joint multi-effects warhead that can hit more diverse land targets.

The Tomahawk cruise missile is a precision weapon that launches from ships and submarines and can strike targets precisely from 1,000 miles/1,609 km away, even in heavily defended airspace. U.S. and allied militaries have flight-tested the GPS-enabled Tomahawk 550 times and used it in combat more than 2,300 times. Its most recent use came in 2018, when U.S. Navy warships and submarines launched 66 Tomahawk missiles at Syrian chemical weapon facilities.

Lightweight Missile

The Royal Navy has successfully tested a new missile system designed to protect the UK’s new aircraft carriers from attacks by swarms of small boats.

Martlet
Royal Navy tests new missile system for defence against small boat attacks

During operations in the Pacific Ocean with the UK Carrier Strike Group, HMS Defender’s Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter of 815 Naval Air Squadron fired the Martlet lightweight missile at an inflatable target in the sea – known in the navy as the big red tomato.

It is the first time this type of missile has been launched on frontline operations by the Royal Navy after rigorous testing at ranges off the UK coast by the Yeovilton-based Wildcat Maritime Force last year.

In 0.3 seconds, the missile detached from the Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, accelerating to one and a half times the speed of sound towards its target.

The purpose of the missile system is to add another layer of protection around the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, with the Wildcats able to carry up to 20 of the laser-sensor missiles that can be used against stationary and moving targets.

Captain James Blackmore, Carrier Strike Group’s Air Wing Commander, said: «Martlet is a new air to surface lightweight multi-role missile recently introduced into service for the Wildcat helicopter and provides an offensive and defensive capability against small boats and maritime targets that may pose a threat to the Carrier Strike Group. The Wildcat is a phenomenally versatile aircraft and the inclusion of up to 20 missiles on each of the four embarked aircraft adds yet another potent capability to the Air Wing and the Carrier Strike Group. This first firing during an operational deployment not only gives confidence in the end-to-end weapon kill chain but also offers an overt demonstration of one of the many strike capabilities provided by the Air Wing from within the Task Group».

HMS Defender (D36) is currently deployed with the UK Carrier Strike’s Group on its maiden global operational deployment.

And the Martlet missile, available for all Wildcats deployed on the task group, is part of the ring of protective steel around carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08). Frigates HMS Kent (F78) and HMS Richmond (F239) also embark Wildcats along with Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond (D34).

Meanwhile, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) adds Merlin helicopters and F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets to the protective ring.

Scramjet-powered missile

DARPA, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed a free flight test of its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) last week. The missile, built by Raytheon Technologies, was released from an aircraft seconds before its Northrop Grumman scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) engine kicked on. The engine compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast-moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5/3,836 mph/6174 km/h (five times the speed of sound).

Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
Artist’s concept of Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) missile (Courtesy: Raytheon Missiles & Defense)

The HAWC vehicle operates best in oxygen-rich atmosphere, where speed and maneuverability make it difficult to detect in a timely way. It could strike targets much more quickly than subsonic missiles and has significant kinetic energy even without high explosives.

«The HAWC free flight test was a successful demonstration of the capabilities that will make hypersonic cruise missiles a highly effective tool for our warfighters», said Andrew «Tippy» Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «This brings us one step closer to transitioning HAWC to a program of record that offers next generation capability to the U.S military».

Goals of the mission were: vehicle integration and release sequence, safe separation from the launch aircraft, booster ignition and boost, booster separation and engine ignition, and cruise. All primary test objectives were met.

The achievement builds on pioneering scramjet projects, including work on the X-30 National Aero-Space Plane as well as unmanned flights of NASA’s X-43 vehicles and the U.S. Air Force’s X-51 Waverider.

«HAWC’s successful free flight test is the culmination of years of successful government and industry partnership, where a single, purpose-driven team accomplished an extremely challenging goal through intense collaboration», Knoedler added. «This historic flight would not have been possible without the dedication of industry, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy flight test personnel who persevered through the pandemic to make the magic happen».

The HAWC flight test data will help validate affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches that will field air-breathing hypersonic missiles to our warfighters in the near future.

Milestone C

The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) received Milestone C (MS-C) approval August 23, allowing the program to move into its first phase of production.

AARGM-ER
The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) completes its first live fire event July 19 off the coast of Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California (U.S. Navy photo)

The U.S. Navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production lots over the next several months.

«The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone», said Captain Alex Dutko, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager. «We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible».

The MS-C decision comes just over two years after the Navy awarded the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to its prime contractor, Northrop Grumman. The team conducted the first live-fire event in July to verify system integration and rocket motor performance, as well as initiate modeling and simulation validation.

Captive and live fire flight testing is planned to continue through 2022 and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for 2023.

The U.S. Navy is integrating AARGM-ER on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and it will be compatible for integration on the F-35 Lightning II. By leveraging the U.S. Navy’s AARGM program, the AARGM-ER with a new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.

Large Scale Exercise

The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) successfully hit its target in support of Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, during Large Scale Exercise 21 (LSE 21) August 15, 2021. The exercise showcased the U.S. maritime forces’ ability to deliver lethal, integrated all-domain naval power.

NMESIS
KAUAI, Hawaii – A Naval Strike Missile streaks out to sea before striking a naval target ship, August 15, 2021, aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii. The missile flew more than 100 nautical miles/115 miles/185 km before finding its mark. The live-fire sinking exercise demonstrated a Marine fires expeditionary advanced base’s ability to sense, target and strike a target at sea, providing sea control or contributing to sea denial in fleet operations. The Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 centers on Marines providing long-range precision strike capabilities as a stand-in force during littoral operations in a contested environment (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Dillon Buck, released)

LSE 21 was a live, virtual and constructive scenario-driven, globally-integrated exercise with activities spanning 17 time zones. LSE 21 applied and assessed developmental warfighting concepts that will define how the future U.S. Navy and Marine Corps compete, respond to crises, fight and win in conflict.

The Marine Corps’ NMESIS will provide the Marine Littoral Regiment with ground based anti-ship capability to facilitate sea denial and control while persisting within the enemy’s weapons engagement-zone, and LSE 21 provided a venue for the program team to validate some of those concepts.

«This scenario is representative of the real-world challenges and missions the Navy and Marine Corps will be facing together in the future», said Brigadier General A.J. Pasagian, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC). «This exercise also provided an opportunity for us to work alongside our service partners to refine Force Design 2030 modernization concepts».

SINKEX, the exercise scenario involving NMESIS, provided a testing environment for new and developing technologies to connect, locate, identify, target and destroy adversary threats in all domains, culminating in the live-fire demonstration of the naval strike missile against a sea-based target. During the exercise, forward-deployed forces on expeditionary advanced bases detected and, after joint command and control collaboration with other U.S. forces, responded to a ship-based adversary. Simultaneous impacts from multiple, dispersed weapons systems and platforms across different U.S. services – including NMESIS – engaged the threat.

NMESIS integrates established, proven sub-systems, such as the Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Chassis, the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and the Fire Control System used by the Navy for NSM.

«From an acquisition perspective, NMESIS started a little over two years ago», said Joe McPherson, long range fires program manager at MCSC. «We’ve been able to rapidly move on developing and fielding this system because we’re leveraging existing NSM and JLTV subsystems».

Because NMESIS is not yet a fielded capability, engineers from MCSC managed the fire control piece of the system during the exercise. Marines, however, were able to practice maneuvering the system and validating the system’s interoperability with their Naval and Air Force partners.

«This week was very successful», said McPherson. «In addition to the two live fire shots that hit the target, we also successfully deployed the system aboard the Marine Corps’ primary transport systems, the C130 Hercules and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC)».

Though not associated with its program development, the NMESIS transportability and mobility demonstration serves an important role in developing tactics, techniques and procedures related to this critical capability, said McPherson.

MCSC is developing and fielding new anti-surface warfare weapons capabilities, including NMESIS, on pace to support Force Design 2030 objectives. These new capabilities contribute to the Fleet’s ability to achieve sea control, sea denial and defense against adversary amphibious force missions.

«This exercise gave us an opportunity to not only measure, but also validate the concepts for the Marine Corps’ anti-ship capability, which is one of the most important avenues of the Commandant’s Force Design 2030», said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Collins, combat integration office for artillery and fires at Marine Corps Combat Development Directorate, Combat Development and Integration. «I think the successful launches of the missile will help us clarify the path forward as we move to fulfill the Commandant’s 2030 vision, and giving the Marine Corps a transformative anti-ship capability».

Exercises such as LSE 21 increase maritime interoperability and the ability to project American power at home and around the world.

NMESIS
Marine Corps successfully demonstrates NMESIS during LSE 21

First Live Fire

The U.S. Navy has successfully completed the first live fire of the Northrop Grumman Corporation AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. The test was conducted on July 19 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California. The missile successfully demonstrated the long range capability of the new missile design.

AARGM-ER
Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range Completes First Successful Missile Live Fire

«The AARGM-ER was successfully launched from the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and met the key test objectives of a first missile live fire event. The government and industry team had great focus and was able to conduct this test event three months earlier than originally envisioned», said Captain A.C. «Count» Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242).

AARGM-ER leverages AARGM with significant improvements in some technology areas.

«Throughout the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the ability to deliver this affordable, time-critical capability that will protect and enhance the capability of our U.S. Navy aircrew», said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. «Congratulations to the collective Government-Industry team for another successful milestone bringing AARGM-ER one step closer to operational fielding».

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force F-35A Lightning II, Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, and Navy and Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft.